Billy Joel lyrics reflect the Bronx's best songwriter
from the Piano Man himself. Billy Joel, the musician with two first
names, has received six Grammy Awards and has been inducted into
both the Songwriter's Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of
Fame. Joel's half-brother Alex is also an acclaimed classical pianist
Not only was Billy Joel a Golden Gloves boxer in his youth, but
in 1971, he was in fact a piano man, playing at the piano bar in
the Los Angeles Executive Lounge under the name Bill Martin. The
lyrics in the song "Piano Man" from the same album are
based upon the real life characters Joel met while playing piano
at the Executive Lounge.
This is also explained in the song by the line, "He says,
'Bill, I believe this is killing me'" since Billy Joel was
in fact, Bill Martin. Because of legal battles with the record company,
Joel has netted only $7,000 from the Piano Man album, which
was certified Gold in 1973.
On the same album, the Billy Joel lyrics to "Captain Jack"
talk about drugs and a pusher. But, the part of the song that got
it banned from many radio play lists in that day is that it mentions
the word "masturbate" by name and not euphemism.
The song, "The Entertainer" on the Streetlife Serenade
album is about Joel's rise to fame and glory and about how he's
not able to enjoy the money or lifestyle much as he is beholden
to too many people. It's also about how fleeting fame, fortune and
glory is and how it can all go away with the blink of an eye.
"The Stranger" on the album by the same name contains
some of Billy Joel's most evocative lyrics talking about the masks
people wear and the secrets we fail to share. "The Stranger"
is also a love song about a woman who somehow changes before the
protagonist's eyes and his struggle to find the deeper side of her
On the 52nd Street album sandwiched in-between "Big
Shot", a song rumored to be about a bad date with Bianca Jagger
and "My Life", a song about fierce independence, is a
tender and powerful love song called "Honesty". The Billy
Joel lyrics to "Honesty" are unlike many other love songs
in that he's not asking for tenderness or sympathy, simply honesty
from his lover, which is a rarity in an inherently dishonest world.
The Billy Joel lyrics to "We Didn't Start the Fire" on
the Storm Front album were written before the melody and
chronicled people, places and events that happened in Joel's lifetime
from 1949 to 1989. Though some say the lyrics are in the "stream
of consciousness" style, this is really not the case since
particular attention was paid to sequence of events, meter and rhyme
in more controlled than typical stream of consciousness prose.
The lyrics talk about the chaos and progress both negative and
positive that started before his generation could take over. Some
see this as a rebuttal to Joel's generation being responsible for
these inherited problems, though other see the song as being about
not being able to control the uncontrollable as time and events
In January of this year there was a leak to the New York Post,
that Billy Joel has recorded a new song of which he has written
the first new lyrics and melody in 14 years titled, "All My
Life". On Super Bowl Sunday, on February 4, 2007, Billy Joel
sang and played "The